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Anarcho-capitalism and environmentalism

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Ultima Posted: Mon, Jan 5 2009 8:16 PM

I've been thinking about some environmental issues and I'm confused as to how a anarcho-capitalist society could deal with them more efficiently than the present system of nation-states could.

Here are a few things that confuse me:

1) Setting aside wildlife reserves and areas aside from development: The way I understand it, under the homesteading principle, one only owns land that one transforms or occupies. Since one is doing neither when it comes to wildlife reserves, how can one protect a unique and natural place? There is nothing to stop someone else from coming in, stripping all the forests or doing some other act.

2) Land, water, and air pollution: I've read that a possible way of dealing with these is through private property rights, but since we have literally millions of sources of pollution (cars, factories, etc..) and some of these sources can be thousands of miles away, it seems to be rather difficult to ascertain who is infringing on your property rights, and it seems like a large overhead.

3) Global-level threats. Hypothetical situation loosely based on reality: Imagine a particularily nasty aerosol that would wipe out the ozone layer in 50 years. There is a competitive market for these aerosols since they are particularily useful in whatever they do (it doesn't matter for the sake of this argument). Since the ozone layer is not anybody's property (and if it were to be someone's property, then whose would it be?), who exactly is infringing on your property rights? Who infringed in the end when the UV rays destroy your crops and your health? Do we need to wait until we get to the point where such damage could be proven and traced back to a source? Could the anarcho-capitalism do a better job than government, here? If so, how?

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bigwig replied on Tue, Jan 6 2009 2:49 AM

These are good questions, particularly number 1, and I would also appreciate an answer.

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Homesteading is not the solution. It encourages individuals to over exploit natural resources. They must have property rights over the land. That way, they will rationalize its use.

About global-level threats, laws would emerge that prohibits the use of certain components in the manufacturing of products.

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Well, I guess I will attempt to answer them for you.

1 - Putting a fence around a piece of property can be considered homesteading.  Once you do that, you can conserve away.

2 - Pollution is addressed with property rights because people own property and can therefore take steps to improve things.  There is no reasonable way to sue someone for "bad air", since it is not owned.  However, business owners have to breathe the air, so they have incentive to keep it clean.  Plus, consumers can choose to buy products from companies that pollute the air the least as well, if they so care to.

3 - There is no infringement on your property rights.  You are however killing yourself and your children by using such a product, and so it is highly doubtful that people would continue to buy the product, if it really were that threatening.

At most, I think only 5% of the adult population would need to stop cooperating to have real change.

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Putting a fence around a piece of property can be considered homesteading.

Yes, homesteading of exactly the land you put your fence onto. Everything within the fence is still up for grabs.


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Sphairon:

Putting a fence around a piece of property can be considered homesteading.

Yes, homesteading of exactly the land you put your fence onto. Everything within the fence is still up for grabs.

I'd agree to an extent with your comment. Keep in mind that the point of homesteading is to establish intersubjectively ascertainable borders regarding property, which acts as an extension of your body in order to acheive your goals. So essentially a fence doesn't do it by itself no,but that doesn't mean you need to homestead of every inch of a plot of land to have said to have homesteaded it.

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows"

Bob Dylan

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Eric replied on Wed, Jan 7 2009 10:08 AM

I'd say look at todays society, if one tries to sell a product harmful to the environment no one buys it. Most commericials now a days display how the company is doing their best to stop "global warming", and car companies are creating cars with more miles per gallon.

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To reinforce Eric, one only needs to look at advertisements today to see how conservation-conscious today's market is: one only needs to watch an hour of television to be bombarded by commercials that showcase how green and enviromentally-friendly their products are. 

Abstract liberty, like other mere abstractions, is not to be found.

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So essentially a fence doesn't do it by itself no,but that doesn't mean you need to homestead of every inch of a plot of land to have said to have homesteaded it.

Well, the problem lies in the very nature of natural habitats. You need extensive spaces of untouched land to preserve a habitat. It's not that you'd have to plow every inch of land to make it yours, but precisely that you may not touch it at all for it to function as a habitat.

If you think that setting up a fence and claiming it'll be used as a habitat will be sufficient, where do you draw the line? Can I just fence my community forest, claim it'll be used as a habitat and then use it to have my undisturbed walk among the trees?


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Marko replied on Thu, Jan 8 2009 9:45 AM

Ultima:

1) Setting aside wildlife reserves and areas aside from development: The way I understand it, under the homesteading principle, one only owns land that one transforms or occupies. Since one is doing neither when it comes to wildlife reserves, how can one protect a unique and natural place? There is nothing to stop someone else from coming in, stripping all the forests or doing some other act.

This is an interesting question. There are cases where it could be relevant in theory . The giant sequoias for example. They should be protected against vandals and would be, but what would be the legal rationale?

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Marko:

 

Ultima:

1) Setting aside wildlife reserves and areas aside from development: The way I understand it, under the homesteading principle, one only owns land that one transforms or occupies. Since one is doing neither when it comes to wildlife reserves, how can one protect a unique and natural place? There is nothing to stop someone else from coming in, stripping all the forests or doing some other act.

This is an interesting question. There are cases where it could be relevant in theory . The giant sequoias for example. They should be protected against vandals and would be, but what would be the legal rationale?

1. Someone has homesteaded the area around a giant sequoias grove an ergo they're his property, and 2. an entrepreneur has homesteaded an area he intends to keep as a wilderness to create a wildlife preserve in order to attract ecotourists, outdoor enthusiasts, ect.

 

Abstract liberty, like other mere abstractions, is not to be found.

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Marko replied on Thu, Jan 8 2009 11:13 AM

laminustacitus:

1. Someone has homesteaded the area around a giant sequoias grove an ergo they're his property, and 2. an entrepreneur has homesteaded an area he intends to keep as a wilderness to create a wildlife preserve in order to attract ecotourists, outdoor enthusiasts, ect.



To create a wildlife preserve? How did he *create* it? Did he import animals from far away lands?

He can homsesteaded the area around a giant sequoia? How? By cutting down surronding trees and planting corn around it?

Homesteading requires action, mixing of labour with the land. You can not just declare an area a wildlife preserve and therefore be given property rights. Property rights are about exclusivity and you can not legitimately claim exclusivity without having lifted a finger. Your entrepreneur could not legitimately barr another entrepreneur to build a second hotel (or campign ground or whatever) for ecotourists on "his" preserve.

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Marko:
Homesteading requires action, mixing of labour with the land. You can not just declare an area a wildlife preserve and therefore be given property rights. Property rights are about exclusivity and you can not legitimately claim exclusivity without having lifted a finger.
 

Creating a wildlife preserve that will actually help conservation within it takes much more than simply declaring an area a wildlife preserve. Instead, it involves hiring rangers both for internal affairs and keeping unwanted trespassers out, and if the preserve is open to tourists (which would be almost guaranteed in this example) to create camps and trails for them. In fact, having a preserve open to ecotourists, and outdoor enthusiats would be a necessity in an anarcho-capitalist society, and to ensure both that they have proper accomodations and their safety would involve mixing land and labor as necessary in homesteading. Of course, one cannot fence off an area the size of Montana as a wildlife preserve, but there is definatly the possibility for smaller parks that are created and maintained by the owners to accomodate a demand for them by adventurists and are at the same time "wildlife preserves". 

Abstract liberty, like other mere abstractions, is not to be found.

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Marko replied on Thu, Jan 8 2009 11:46 AM

laminustacitus:

Creating a wildlife preserve that will actually help conservation within it takes much more than simply declaring an area a wildlife preserve. Instead, it involves hiring rangers both for internal affairs and keeping unwanted trespassers out, and if the preserve is open to tourists (which would be almost guaranteed in this example) to create camps and trails for them. In fact, having a preserve open to ecotourists, and outdoor enthusiats would be a necessity in an anarcho-capitalist society, and to ensure both that they have proper accomodations and their safety would involve mixing land and labor as necessary in homesteading. Of course, one cannot fence off an area the size of Montana as a wildlife preserve, but there is definatly the possibility for smaller parks that are created and maintained by the owners to accomodate a demand for them by adventurists and are at the same time "wildlife preserves".



I think this is problematic. It is far easier to patrol land than to grow corn on it. If patroling = homesteading couldn`t I homestead wast areas that could otherwise eventually be put to a much more productive use? Plus with conventional homesteading even if I stop working the land after a few  years it remains mine. Would "the preserve" land remain my exclusive property if I stopped patroling it?

And how exactly do I get the right to barr people from a stretch of land I have no other connection to than that I patrol it daily? If I grow corn then I can not have another grow beets on the same land. In this case the farmland is scarce. But if I am patroling some forrest to keep the wildlife safe, surely another can do the same at the same time? There is no scarcity of paths to patrol in a forrest.

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GilesStratton:

Sphairon:

Putting a fence around a piece of property can be considered homesteading.

Yes, homesteading of exactly the land you put your fence onto. Everything within the fence is still up for grabs.

I'd agree to an extent with your comment. Keep in mind that the point of homesteading is to establish intersubjectively ascertainable borders regarding property, which acts as an extension of your body in order to acheive your goals. So essentially a fence doesn't do it by itself no,but that doesn't mean you need to homestead of every inch of a plot of land to have said to have homesteaded it.

Agreed. In this fashion I believe that if one set up trails, signs, plaques, ranger towers and stations, throughout a piece of land to some degree that land could be considered homesteaded and labored upon to warrant ownership of the land without it destroying so much its natural state. Through a combination of many more unobtrusive means to the end of homesteading. 

The state is a disease and Liberty is the both the victim and the only means to a lasting cure.

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Marko:

This is an interesting question. There are cases where it could be relevant in theory . The giant sequoias for example. They should be protected against vandals and would be, but what would be the legal rationale?

And why shoudl they be again? Why ought inanimate objects be preserved in the manner that they are? I find it sort of strange that someone on an Austrian board woudl be suggesting that a thing has an objective value if that is what you are proposing. So far as I am concerned, these giant seqouias are indeed interesting but no more deserving of exception from acquisition through labor than gold in the earth or corn in a field. 

The state is a disease and Liberty is the both the victim and the only means to a lasting cure.

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Marko replied on Thu, Jan 8 2009 2:52 PM

ThorsMitersaw:

Marko:

This is an interesting question. There are cases where it could be relevant in theory . The giant sequoias for example. They should be protected against vandals and would be, but what would be the legal rationale?

And why shoudl they be again? Why ought inanimate objects be preserved in the manner that they are? I find it sort of strange that someone on an Austrian board woudl be suggesting that a thing has an objective value if that is what you are proposing. So far as I am concerned, these giant seqouias are indeed interesting but no more deserving of exception from acquisition through labor than gold in the earth or corn in a field.



I am not certain I understand what you are saying. And I am not certain you understand what I am saying.

I am all for homesteading sequoias, but I don`t see how you can homestead it without cutting it down, which would be sort of self-defeating. I am not saying it can not be homesteaded in another way, in fact I am trying hard to think of a way, but so far with little success. Maybe you have the anwser?

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ecoli replied on Thu, Jan 8 2009 3:51 PM

How about the implementation of a tax credit to industries producing any kind of alternative energy, rather than subsidizing specific technologies. 

 

This as an alternative to the current problem, not necessarily as the ideal solution.

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Morty replied on Thu, Jan 8 2009 7:51 PM

Ultima:
I've been thinking about some environmental issues and I'm confused as to how a anarcho-capitalist society could deal with them more efficiently than the present system of nation-states could.

I hate to respond to your questions with questions of my own, but I'm confused. What does it mean to "deal with [environmental problems] more efficiently"? Do you mean achieve a certain environmental goal, and if so, what goal and who wants it achieved?

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Conza88 replied on Sun, Jan 11 2009 4:20 AM

Ah, 1) is closely linked to an issue I just raised... about homesteading the sea (i.e you don't want people to homestead it... how can you protect it so it doesn't get changed, altered, or homesteaded?) - talking about surfers wanting to preserve their break.

Would be interested if this could provide some kind of solution.

Ron Paul is for self-government when compared to the Constitution. He's an anarcho-capitalist. Proof.
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sirmonty replied on Sun, Jan 11 2009 4:56 PM

Does anyone know of any detailed articles or excerpts dealing with an-cap/austrian economics and the environment?

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MikeL replied on Sun, Jan 11 2009 6:11 PM

Bob Murphy has a chapter in his "PIG guide to captialism" called "How capitalism will save the environment." It's a good intro but that's about it. Too brief to be really powerful.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Politically-Incorrect-Guide-Capitalism-Guides/dp/1596985046

 

 

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MatthewF replied on Sun, Jan 11 2009 6:12 PM

Marko:

And how exactly do I get the right to barr people from a stretch of land I have no other connection to than that I patrol it daily? If I grow corn then I can not have another grow beets on the same land. In this case the farmland is scarce. But if I am patroling some forrest to keep the wildlife safe, surely another can do the same at the same time? There is no scarcity of paths to patrol in a forrest.

There is no scarcity of paths to patrol, but there is a scarcity of the amount of time you have to patrol these paths. You would be limited in your patrol area by the need to stop patroling and produce food instead. Of course you could pay someone else to patrol, but again you would only be able to pay for the amout of partol service that you have left over after providing for your own survival. It wouldn't be economical to just horde an unused area to yourself.

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MatthewF replied on Sun, Jan 11 2009 6:21 PM

http://mises.org/story/2120#9

I found this to be very helpful

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Yeah, that's a great one. I mentioned it in the thread on homesteading the sea.

Freedom of markets is positively correlated with the degree of evolution in any society...

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Marko replied on Sun, Jan 11 2009 7:06 PM

MatthewF:

There is no scarcity of paths to patrol, but there is a scarcity of the amount of time you have to patrol these paths. You would be limited in your patrol area by the need to stop patroling and produce food instead. Of course you could pay someone else to patrol, but again you would only be able to pay for the amout of partol service that you have left over after providing for your own survival. It wouldn't be economical to just horde an unused area to yourself.



True. But what if we are talking about a flat grassland and I use a dirt bike to cover huge distances? What if I am wealthy and on a whim hire 10 riders? In order to give myself a huge private unspoiled preserve resort area, albeit under the guise of philantropic conservation? Is that down with everyone?

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MatthewF replied on Sun, Jan 11 2009 7:30 PM

How well do you pay your riders? Where can I interview for the position?Wink

Even though this was a thread about wildlife reserves, this is an opportunity to point out that while someone may find a way to preserve wildlife, others may choose to preserve "recreational areas."

I live in Oregon and enjoy dirt bike riding at a place called Sand Lake. Because it is government owned, the camping fee's are always rising, that bathrooms are always filthy, and there are curfew's and rules about alcohol consumption.

If you would let me ride after midnight and not bother me because I'm enjoying a beer, I would gladly pay to use a part of your land. Maybe that is how you got rich... 

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Marko replied on Sun, Jan 11 2009 7:46 PM

Hehehe.

Mind you I am not necessarily against this sort of thing. I am just trying to think.

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MikeL replied on Tue, Jan 13 2009 9:59 PM

This interview with Walter Block when he was at the Fraser Institute is excellent. He doesn't tackle the problem posted here specifically, but he does speak at length on free market solutions to environmental problems. There are five parts. Start here:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DrTsaSUFfpo

 

 

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